Dejounte Murray showed exactly why the Atlanta Hawks pulled the trigger on their big offseason trade, carrying his new team to a 112-99 road win against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Murray, 26, was a first-time All-Star this past season with the San Antonio Spurs, before the Hawks traded for him in a deal centred around three first-round draft picks.
There were eyebrows raised at the time about if Murray could fit and produce next to another All-Star point guard in Trae Young, but he continued to exceed expectations in a starring performance against the Knicks.
He finished with a game-high and career-high 36 points on 14-of-27 shooting, hitting five of his 12 three-point attempts while adding nine assists, six steals and four rebounds.
His performance came at a good time for the Hawks, with Young struggling on his way to 17 points on seven-of-22 shooting after briefly leaving the game due to a nasty scratch to his eye
It is the first time this season Murray has surpassed 26 points in a game – also setting season-highs for field goal makes and attempts, three-point makes and attempts, and steals.
Also finding his footing with a new team, the Knicks' Jalen Brunson was comfortably his side's best performer, finishing with an efficient 20 points (eight-of-15 shooting) and five assists.
Since arriving with the Knicks, Brunson is averaging career-highs in points (18.2), assists (7.2), rebounds (4.2) and steals (1.3).
DJ CAREER HIGH 34 pic.twitter.com/kDWfVmlVq3— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) November 3, 2022
Bucks remain the NBA's last undefeated team
It was smooth sailing for the Milwaukee Bucks in their 116-91 home win against the Detroit Pistons, moving to 7-0 for the season as the only team without a loss.
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a strong case as the favourite to win his third, continuing his blistering start to the season with 32 points (11-of-24 shooting, 10-of-12 free throws), 12 rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks.
He was supported in style by Jrue Holiday, who hit 11 of his 16 shots on his way to 26 points and seven rebounds.
Basketball is art. Keep painting. pic.twitter.com/SdSa2ZYhqK— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) November 3, 2022
Doncic mounts his own MVP case
Antetokounmpo's biggest challenger for this year's MVP trophy appears to be Luka Doncic, who carried his Dallas Mavericks to a 103-100 win over the Utah Jazz.
In the win, which lifted the Mavericks to 4-3, Doncic shot 60 per cent from the field for his 33 points (12-of-20), leading the game in points and assists (11). Doncic has now scored at least 30 points in each of his team's first seven games, becoming the first player to do so since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962-63.
Still yet to break into the starting lineup after being acquired from the Houston Rockets, Christian Wood put in a strong showing off the bench, scoring 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds.
.@luka7doncic just became the first player since 1962-63 — and only the third player in @NBA history — to record 30+ points in each of the first 7 games of the season.— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) November 3, 2022
Garland returns in Cavaliers' overtime win
All-Star point guard Darius Garland returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers' lineup and played a big part in their 114-113 overtime win at home against the Boston Celtics.
Having not played since suffering an eye injury in the Cavs' season-opener, Garland did not miss a beat, dishing a game-high 12 assists to go with his 29 points (nine-of-20 shooting) in 42 minutes.
Running-mate Donovan Mitchell showed there were plenty of shots to go around, chipping in 25 points (11-of-27) with six assists in the first real look at the Cavaliers' two-pronged attack using their All-Star backcourt.